A Staff Report from the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

How do you use a bidet?

August 2, 2000

Dear Straight Dope:

It's been a long time since you've dealt with real-world how-to-do-it stuff so, to get you back on the straight and narrow, try this. Actually, it's two questions, both based on a long ago trip to Europe where a certain lack of knowledge produced giggles, embarrassment, and frustration. But for the sake of world betterment:

a. Can bidets be used by men as well as women?

b. How does one (either sex) actually use a bidet?

What's a bidet? A cleansing device for your naughty bits, a little shower for the nether region. You can buy one as a freestanding unit, looking like a weird cross between a toilet and a water fountain. If you haven't got the space for that, other units can be affixed to your standard toilet seat and controlled using a hand lever. This swings the unit down from its resting place under the seat rim and allows you to direct the flow of water back and forth.

How do you use a bidet? It's easy to find instructions on the Web, but here's a summary. While sitting, you simply turn on the water. When the temperature is to your liking, you increase the pressure to direct a stream of water towards those spots in need of cleansing.

The bidet can be used by both men and women. Some folks think a session with one should be an integral part of your daily hygiene. Bidets offer the user a hands-free and supposedly superior water wash in place of the wiping and occasionally irritating action of toilet paper. (Sorry, Mr. Whipple.) Bidets are commonly used to relieve inflammation due to hemorrhoids, prevent recurrence of cystitis and vaginitis, and ease soreness associated with diarrhea. The bidet is also recommended for cleansing during menstruation and postpartum recovery. Post operative irrigation following colorectal surgery or fissure repair is another application. I imagine they are great for reducing the incidents of skid marks too, but I digress.

I have long known that Europeans were big on bidets. However, not being much of a world traveler, I first encountered one at one of those romantic/honeymoon hotels for couples. I was initially startled to see what I thought were two toilets in the bathroom and wondered if I hadn't stepped onto a Saturday Night Live set (remember the Love Toilet)? Upon closer inspection I realized there was a fountain where the poop chute should be. Given the carnal nature of the visit, I surmised that an appropriate ad slogan for this device might be, "If he kissed it once, will he kiss it again? Be certain with a bidet!" I wonder if you can get one with a combination hot air dryer?

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